People become homeless for lots of reasons: the loss of a job, to escape domestic violence, mental illness, release from the care system with few resources, breakdown of a relationship, death of a partner or parent -- to name just a few. Homelessness can happen to almost anyone. Many of us are just a month's wage away from being able to pay the rent or mortgage. Any one set-back can cause things to fall apart. Anyone faced with a series of mishaps can find their lives unraveling.  

On top of this, the stock of affordable housing is dwindling and the property market in London remains prohibitively high for many people. With cuts to benefits and social housing, more and more people are turning to Glass Door.


Rough sleeping is on the rise. 8,108 people were recorded as sleeping rough at least once on London's streets in 2016/2017 according to the Chain database, which records rough sleepers in London seen by outreach workers.

While the statistics are widely acknowledged to be under-representing the true scale of rough sleeping, they do reflect general trends. According to the Trust for London, the rough sleeping count is three times higher than a decade ago.

We know the official rough sleeping count is just the tip of the iceburg. Those staying in shelters and hostels are not included. Nor are the people sleep on night buses, stay out of sight, or rove from one couch to another.

Only about 50% of those who turn to us have been previously recorded as a verified rough sleepers in the Chain database, so we can only estimate the true number of those in desperate need of emergency shelter is much greater.

The causes of homelessness have changed since this rise began a decade ago. When people turn to their local London council for help, they are increasingly citing an end to their private tenancy as the cause. After a short-lease on a flat has ended, the landlord can increase the rent, and if the tenant can no longer afford the new terms (as is increasingly the case), the individual or family must leave. The lack of alternative affordable housing options is at the heart of much of the rise in homelessness across the UK, but especially in London.

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea has the largest statistical gap between the richest and poorest residents in all of London. Demand for our services continues to grow.

Economic reasons or the lack of affordable housing as a reason for homelessness in rich areas is shameful. But ending homelessness is not just a matter of justice and social cohesion.

Homelessness also adds to the strain on the medical system. We know homelessness can be devastating to someone's ability to maintain their physical and mental health. The average age of death of a homeless man in London is 47, around 30 years below the figure for the population as a whole. For women, it is 43.

There is hope

While the data is stark and the human experiences are often heartbreaking, we do have a formula that offers hope. 

Read the stories of some of our guests.

Next, find out how to get involved: